The DPP believed that affairs pertaining to China should be viewed as foreign affairs and therefore based on the goal of establishing normal state-to-state relations. However, it is an undeniable fact that Taiwan and China have a special relationship that other countries do not share and as such fully normal relations are not something that can be achieved overnight.
In addition, cross-strait matters cannot be handled like diplomatic relations with other foreign countries. This is why the party established both a department for foreign affairs and a separate Department of China Affairs.
However, following the DPP’s poor showing in the 2005 mayoral elections, then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) abandoned the “four noes and one not” and the “new middle way” and instead led the DPP down the path of Taiwanese independence, saying that Taiwan and China were two countries without any special relations.
In 2007, the party passed a “resolution on making Taiwan a normal country” and the Department of China Affairs was abolished, its duties being handed over to the Department of International Affairs.
One of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) main strategies was to despise the enemy at a strategic level, while taking them seriously at a tactical level. In contrast, the way in which the DPP purposefully ignores China, both in terms of strategy and tactics, is conceited and arrogant.
By treating their hopes for the future as reality, policy planning and implementation lack real-world support, which makes implementation next to impossible.
This not only creates tension in cross-strait relations, it clashes with the opinions of other nations, which seriously damages the DPP’s credibility within Taiwanese society.
It is a good thing that the DPP is reinstating its Department of China Affairs. However, the department is ultimately just an administrative unit of the central party leadership. The party needs to determine a suitable set of procedures through which it can make correct political decisions based on the information provided by the China department. These decisions will affect such things as the party’s basic values, the party line, as well as its short, medium and long-term strategic goals.
As such, much more work is required if the Department of China Affairs is to gain legitimacy.
Lin Cho-shui is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.
Translated by Drew Cameron